Cover Image: American Women's Suffrage: Voices from the Long Struggle for the Vote 1776-1965 (LOA #332)

American Women's Suffrage: Voices from the Long Struggle for the Vote 1776-1965 (LOA #332)

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Member Reviews

American Women’s Suffrage is the newest edition in the Library of America’s incredible collection of American literature and historical writings. In this collection, advocates and opponents of women’s suffrage from 1776 to 1965 are heard once again. It’s an extensive anthology and took me quite some time to read as I tended to read one or two pieces and then read something else.

We first hear from Abigail Adams as she fruitlessly encouraged her husband to ensure women’s rights. We also hear from him citing the still common, and false, assertion that women actually are in charge. “We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat.” There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun.

The last person we hear from is Fannie Lou Hamer who described how she was dispossessed of her home, arrested, and beaten for registering to vote to the credentials committee of the Democratic National Committee.

In between, many women write of their desire for suffrage, to be full citizens in their country. We hear from Black women organizing and speaking for women’s suffrage even before the Civil War, not just during the Civil Rights Era. This book does an excellent job of restoring women to their place in history. We also hear from the men, the editorials moaning about all the terrible consequences. Seriously, Rush Limbaugh is unimaginative compared to the 1852 “New York Herald.”

American Women’s Suffrage is excellent. It has the comprehensive coverage I expect from the Library of America. It fills in the gaps and erasures in the story of organizing for the vote. In this year where turnout exceeded all expectations in spite of so many things that could have suppressed the vote, it seems an ideal time to study how women won the right to vote.

I received an e-galley of American Women’s Suffrage from NetGalley.

American Women’s Suffrage at the Library of America
Susan Ware author site
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Thank you, Susan Ware, for creating a collective truth for women!!  Maria Stewart, the Grimke sisters, the corrective speech of Sojourner Truth,  Ida B. Wells I am sure is pleased to know that you have provided her story to inspire and gather together women, and more specifically African American women to ensure inclusion in the voting process, even as we prepare to encourage and hope for a woman in the Vice Presidency, and Supreme Court.    

American Women's Suffrage must be told so eloquently and authentically that it lives into the ages, Susan Ware has accomplished that in this wonderful collection!
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Every American woman (and frankly, every American man) needs to read this book, which I was thrilled to preview with the help of NetGalley, Susan Ware, and the Library of America.  

It's hard to believe that 2020 was the first time a major party nominated a woman for President -- although, as this book reminds us, it was far from the first time a woman ran, and a debt is owed to Shirley Chisolm.  This book reminds us that the fight for suffrage and equality was long and hard and is far from over.  I was especially impressed at this book's impassioned statement right at the outset that this book is necessary because we have yet to read a comprehensive book on women's suffrage that underscores the important role of women of color in this fight.  I have been a feminist for a long time but am sad to say that my traditional education and even my own research did not tell me enough about many of the women whose own words are featured here, particularly the women of color.

This book is so well-edited and relies mostly on the writings and recorded works of the suffragists and feminists themselves.  These essays and letters are a call to action and will make you want to work with the same passion to make the world a better place.  In addition to writings from the Seneca Falls Convention and important writings by feminists I had already read and loved, like Sojourner Truth and Abigail Adams,  I discovered many new feminists whose writings I will delve deeper into in the future.  I also learned (which I am embarrassed to say I never knew) that some of what I had previously thought were Sojourner Truth's words was actually racist approximations of black dialect circulated, and most likely invented or embellished, by white women.  Shocking, but not surprising, and the kind of thing any true women's history buff needs to know, even though it is painful to read about how women of color were continually marginalized in this movement..  I also REALLY appreciate that this book does not end in 1920 but continues on through much of the civil rights movement, and I loved the accounts and recorded works derived from the women's rights debates.

Though this book is extremely educational, it is exciting reading and never feels like a bore.  (And this is coming from someone who reads much more fiction than non fiction and usually reads thrillers - the Seneca Falls Convention is enough of a thriller for me!)

After reading this book I was inspired to change my twitter profile to a quote by Abigail Adams featured in this book: "If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion."  This book features not only this and other well known quotes from Adams, but the entire piece of writing from which it originates.  I think this book should be taught in schools and I'm very glad I had the chance to read it - I suspect I will be reading and rereading it in the years to come. I'm also happy my husband, who is a history buff and a feminist himself, was convinced by my review and is going to read it next!)  If I could give this book ten stars, I would.  I am also going to purchase a hard copy of this book to have on my bookshelf.

Now if you will excuse me, I am off to foment a rebellion.
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